In this essay I consider Kaplan’s challenge to Frege’s so-called dictum: “Logic (and perhaps even truth) is immune to epithetical color”. I show that if it is to challenge anything, it rather challenges the view (attributable to Frege) that logic is immune to pejorative colour. This granted, I show that Kaplan’s inference-based challenge can be set even assuming that the pejorative doesn’t make any non-trivial truth-conditional (descriptive) contribution. This goes against the general tendency to consider the truth-conditionally inert logically irrelevant. (...) But I take it that Kaplan is right and take his examples to show that truth-conditional inertness need not entail inferential inertness. I end up assessing the Kaplan-Frege “debate” as giving edge to the former to the extent that clarity is achieved through Kaplanian inferences on what should be considered part of the explanandum. (shrink)
This paper offers a detailed reconstruction of Frege’s theory of side-thoughts and its relation to other parts of his pragmatics, most notably to the notion of colouring, to the notion of presupposition, and to his implicit notion of multi-propositionality. I also highlight some important differences between the subsemantic categories employed by Frege and those used in contemporary pragmatics.
Why did Frege offer only proper names as examples of presupposition triggers? Some scholars claim that Frege simply did not care about the full range of presuppositional phenomena. This paper argues, in contrast, that he had good reasons for employing an extremely narrow notion of ‘Voraussetzung’. On Frege’s view, many devices that are now construed as presupposition triggers either express several thoughts at once or merely ‘illuminate’ a thought in a particular way. Fregean presuppositions, in contrast, are essentially tied to (...) names. (shrink)
Many scholars claim that Frege's theory of colouring is committed to a radical form of subjectivism or emotivism. Some other scholars claim that Frege's concept of colouring is a precursor to Grice's notion of conventional implicature. I argue that both of these claims are mistaken. Finally, I propose a taxonomy of Fregean colourings: for Frege, there are purely aesthetic colourings, communicative colourings or hints, non-communicative colourings.
Two claims that are hard to deny are that slurs can be offensive, and that not all uses of language are communicative. It’s therefore perplexing why no one has considered the possibility that slurs might be offensive not because of what they communicate but rather because of interpretive effects their uses might exact. In what follows, we intend to argue just that, namely, that confrontations with slurs can set in motion a kind of imaginative engagement that rouses objectionable psychological states. (...) We believe this view has precedence in Frege’s account of tone. (shrink)
Today's leading theories of meaning, chiefly those of Michael Dummett and Donald Davidson, depend crucially upon Gottlob Frege's distinctions between sense and reference, sense and utterance-force, and sense and tone. But while the notions of reference, sense, and force have dominated the discussion, the subtle workings of tone have received scant attention. Long overdue, this is the first comprehensive study of tone. Careful analysis of the more than two dozen varieties identified by Frege and Dummett reveals serious weaknesses in their (...) explanatory framework. The author sketches a broader conception in terms of speakers correctly making things out to be a certain way, a formulation that avoids the demonstrated shortcomings of Fregean truth-conditional accounts while capturing the representational character of meaning as this applies right across the language–not only to words and sentences, but to discreet linguistic components such as word-order, mood of the verb, and patterns of intonation and stress. (shrink)
Two opposing tendencies in the philosophy of language go by the names of ‘referentialism’ and ‘inferentialism’ respectively. In the crudest version of the contrast, the referentialist account of meaning gives centre stage to the referential semantics for a language, which is then used to explain the inference rules for the language, perhaps as those which preserve truth on that semantics (since a referential semantics for a language determines the truth-conditions of its sentences). By contrast, the inferentialist account of meaning gives (...) centre stage to the inference rules for the language, which are then used to explain its referential semantics, perhaps as the semantics on which the rules preserve truth. On pain of circularity, we cannot combine both directions of explanation. (shrink)
In this paper we reach back to an earlier generation of discussions about both linguistic meaning and moral language to answer the still-current question as to whether and in what way some special non-descriptive feature comprises part of the semantics of identifiably ethical terms. Taking off from the failure of familiar meta-ethical theories, restricted as they are to the Fregean categories of Sense and Force (whether singly or in combination), we propose that one particular variety belonging to Frege’s humble semantic (...) category of Farbung –– what Dummett calls Tone –– holds the key. Specifically, the kinds of expressions that Dummett dubs “expressives”, when properly understood as representing a speaker’s sentiment, solve the mystery not only of moral discourse, but of evaluative language, broadly construed. On this basis we account for moral language’s special relation to action motivation in ways that avoid Moore’s paradox and honor, in unasserted contexts, what Geach calls ‘the Frege point’. Commitments to the public and social character of natural language are also respected. (shrink)
The paper argues that colouring is a conventional ingredient of literal meaning characterized by a considerable degree of semantic under-determination and a high degree of context-sensitivity. The positive, though tentative, suggestion made in the paper is that whereas in the case of words such as "but" and "damn" we are dealing with words lacking in specificity, in the case of pejoratives in general, and racist jargon in particular, we are dealing with words that express concepts that purport to describe the (...) world as being in a certain way. The circumstance that in certain contexts of utterance colouring can be cancelled out, does not show that it forms a detachable part of a word's literal meaning. It only shows that to account for the interplay between context, literal meaning and assertoric content is much trickier than meets the eye. (shrink)
I offer a theory of propositional attitudeascriptions that reconciles a number of independently plausiblesemantic principles. At the heart of the theory lies the claim thatpsychological verbs (such as ``to believe'' and ``to doubt'') vary incontent indexically. After defending this claim and explaining how itrenders the aforementioned principles mutually compatible, I arguethat my account is superior to currently popular hidden indexicaltheories of attitude ascription. To conclude I indicate a number oframifications that the proposed theory has for issues in epistemology,philosophy of mind, (...) and formal semantics. (shrink)
The idea that an utterance of a basic (nondeviant) declarative sentence expresses a single true-or-false proposition has dominated philosophical discussions of meaning in this century. Refinements aside, this idea is less of a substantive theses than it is a background assumption against which particular theories of meaning are evaluated. But there are phenomena (noted by Frege, Strawson, and Grice) that threaten at least the completeness of classical theories of meaning, which associate with an utterance of a simple sentence a truth-condition, (...) a Russellian proposition, or a Fregean thought. And it may well be the case that a framework within which utterances express sequences of propositions provides much of what is needed to account for the relevant phenomena, a better overall picture of the way language works, and an enticingly uniform perspective on a variety of semantic problems. I do not myself take to theories that multiply propositions by appealing to propositions “presupposed” or to pairs of Fregean and Russellian propositions, or theories that show no respect for a distinction between semantics and pragmatics— where the former is the study of propositions whose general form and character is determined by word meaning and syntax—or for theories that blithely abandon general principles of composition and semantic innocence. I would like to sketch a package based on four interconnected ideas: (i) the meaning of an individual word is a sequence of instructions for generating a sequence of propositions (in conjunction with compositional instructions (syntax) and elements of context); (ii) utterances themselves are not bearers of truth or falsity; (iii) judgements of truth, falsity, commitment, and conflict are shaped, in part, by the weights attached to individual 1 propositions that occur in sequences expressed by utterances, weights that may be set (and reset) by contextual considerations; (iv) Fregean senses are superfluous; propositions might as well be Russellian (Mont Blanc and all its snow fields will do as well as any mode of presentation).. (shrink)
Die Zusammenhänge die zwischen G. Freges und R. H. Lotzes logischen Lehren bestehen, sind, wie die gemeinsame Beurteilung der Gebrauchssprache zeigt, noch tiefer als allgemein angenommen. Insbesondere die von Frege konzipierte logische Sprachkritik ist in drei Punkten von Lotze beeinflußt. Lotze fordert nämlich die strenge Trennung von Logik und Gebrauchssprache. Daneben spielt der Begriff des Logischeinfachen eine zentrale Rolle in seiner Logik. Schließlich unterscheidet er den objektiven Gedanken von seiner Färbung. The connexions that exist between the logical doctrines of G. (...) Frege and R. H. Lotze are, as shows their common treatment of natural language, deeper than is generally admitted. In particular, the logical criticism of language conceived by Frege is influenced in three points by Lotze. Firstly, Lotze postulates the strict separation of logic and natural language. Furthermore, the idea of logical simplicity plays an important role in his logic. Finally, he distinguishes objective thought from its tone. (shrink)